Nightlife Agenda: U Street beer, the Dead and a tribute to Stevie Wonder

October 8, 2013

Every Tuesday, the Going Out Gurus highlight the week's best DJs, bands, dance nights and parties.

Deltron 3030
Kid Koala, Del The Funky Homosapien and Dan "The Automator" Nakamura make up the hip-hop supergroup Deltron 3030. (Photo by Michael Donovan)

Tuesday, October 8
Virtuosic trumpeter Roy Hargrove can do it all: Straight-ahead jazz, Afro-Cuban jazz, even his ultra-modern fusion of jazz, hip-hop and liquid funk with his RH Factor. He's recorded alongside the Marsalises and with Common and Erykah Badu. This kind of musical diversity is why his shows are must-sees for the whole spectrum of jazz lovers, and he's coming to Blues Alley for six straight nights.

Wednesday, October 9
We're not exactly sure what Mellow Mushroom's monthly Bing Bang Bingo has in store for its Halloween edition, but when the host of the event is a drag queen named Heidi Glum, you know things will be interesting. The evening mixes a half-dozen rounds of saucy bingo and three even-saucier drag performances starring Jessica Spaulding Deverreoux, Pussy Noir and Ernie Erne Curtis. There's no charge to play, and beer and cocktail specials begin at 7 p.m.

Thursday, October 10
Alternative hip-hop stars Del the Funky Homosapien, Dan the Automator and Kid Koala first recorded a futuristic hip-hop concept album as Deltron 3030 in 2000. They've spent the following 13 years teasing fans about the release of a follow-up project. "Event 2" is finally here: dusty hip-hop grooves, deftly layered samples, Kid Koala's peerless scratching, and guest appearances by Damon Albarn, Black Rob and even Joseph Gordon-Levitt, all employed to further the original space opera. Make sure you show up early to the Howard Theatre for Kid Koala's solo DJ set.

For D.C.-born indie-rock fans of a certain age, this Thursday's show at the Rock and Roll Hotel is packed with nostalgia. Headlining is the snarling, driving alternative rock of Obits, a New York group that includes former members of Drive Like Jehu, Edsel, Girls Against Boys and Shortstack – all influences you can hear in the aggressive garage rockabilly of new album "Bed and Bugs." (In yet another local twist, the album was recorded above Arlington indie-rock bar Galaxy Hut.) Opening for Obits is Ex Hex, the rocking new project from guitarist Mary Timony of Wild Flag (and formerly Autoclave and Helium); the power-pop of Title Tracks, led by John Davis of Q and Not U and Georgie James fame; and Cane and the Sticks, led by onetime High Back Chairs singer Peter Hayes.

We love the idea of U Street Brew - a new "funky IPA" that aims to "exemplify the U Street vibe," not to mention that 50 cents from every pint sold will go to the Howard Theatre Foundation and the Ben's Chili Bowl Foundation. We just wish that a beer celebrating one of Washington's most important neighborhoods was being brewed in D.C. instead of at Baltimore's Baltimore-Washington Beer Works, the home of Raven Beer. Still, we're going to give it the benefit of the doubt for now: We enjoy Raven, and the charitable aspect is welcome. Give U Street Brew a try at its official launch party at Ben's Next Door. Here's an extra incentive: The beer will be $3 per pint from 6 p.m. to close.

The non-profit hip-hop arts and development organization Words, Beats & Life has used a string of unique parties as fundraisers for their kids' programs. Each one features a slate of D.C.'s rawest veteran spinners covering a specific era or theme in hip-hop. Past parties have focused on the Native Tongues, Dungeon Family and the Roots. This time around at Liv, Philantrobeat is focusing on two of hip-hop's most famous record labels, putting Bad Boy's catalogue up against Roc-A-Fella. There's a $10 donation at the door if you're not a member of WBL.

Friday, October 11
This week, the quirky Dogfish Head brewery is releasing its latest beer-and-music collaboration: American Beauty, an imperial pale ale "inspired by" the Grateful Dead – which is why it's brewed with organic granola. (What other legal ingredient could they possible use?) The beer is making its Washington debut at the new Georgetown music venue Gypsy Sally's, where Grateful Dead cover band On the Bus joins the all-acoustic Grateful Dead tribute act Black Muddy River Band.

Saturday, October 12
You probably don't think of Politics and Prose as a place to grab a beer, although the popular bookstore does serve brews from D.C. Brau, Great Lakes and Port City during trivia night and selected author readings. This weekend, Politics and Prose will be hosting its first beer tasting, which promises to be one of the most literate beer events in the city. Guests will taste small pours of eight Oktoberfest lagers and pumpkin beers and vote for a favorite in each category; the most popular will make it onto the store's forthcoming fall beer menu. As you sip, local author and historian Garrett Peck will talk about the history of brewing in D.C. Peck is the author of "Prohibition in Washington, D.C.: How Dry We Weren't," so he's well versed in local drinking culture.

Tribute parties have long been the rage. They highlight a particular era or decade, or feature clashes of the titans where the recorded output of legends are pitted against each other. But you can count on one hand the artists whose catalogues are so deep that you could dance to their music into the early hours of the morning. Stevie Wonder is the patron saint of soulful, spirit-cleansing music, and DJ Spinna is his acolyte. Spinna's mix-mastery and Stevie's vast discography are at the heart of Wonder-FULL, Spinner's traveling Stevie Wonder tribute event. Wonder-FULL is so legit that Stevie himself has called during the party to give it and those gathered in his name his full blessing. Get the full Stevie Wonder immersion experience with Spinna on the decks at Liv.

DC9 has quite the doubleheader Saturday night. At 6 p.m., the endlessly fascinating Nerd Nite is back with talks about feminism in Hayao Miyazaki's anime, the secrets of hairdos in ancient Rome and what should be a very good-looking presentation on coral reefs from a ecologist who studied them in Australia. Between lectures, there will be a contest for the nerdiest T-shirt, because if you don't find it in this crowd, it doesn't exist. Once Nerd Nite ends, the all-'90s dance party Peach Pit celebrates its fourth anniversary with DJ Matt Bailer spinning the hits.

Back in May, English DJ/producer/electronic musician Gold Panda appeared on the Black Cat's cramped backstage. Four months later, he's returning to headline the club's main room, no doubt boosted by the June release of "Half of Where You Live," a sprawling collection of 11 globally influenced dance tracks: Bubbling house, techno laden with twinkling synths, glitchy techno salted with sitar and tablas, stuttering big beats that evoke desolate urban streets. More than just a knob-twiddling DJ, Gold Panda waves samples together to create soundscapes that manage to be nuanced and minimalist at the same time.

Fritz Hahn has written about bars, drinks and nightlife for the Washington Post Weekend Section since 2003, but he also writes about everything from Civil War battlefields to sailing classes. A product of Prince George's County public schools, Fritz majored in journalism at the University of Maryland and lives in the District.
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Lavanya Ramanathan | October 7, 2013